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Subject: Breaking obstacles as a game mechanic rss

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Semicharm
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As part my survival horror game, players scavenge for useful items in abandoned buildings. Some items are behind obstacles (locked doors and barricades) that players can break through. Obstacles have a value denoting their strength, making some harder to break through than others. I haven't seen anything quite like this in a board game, so I have no idea what would be the easiest system for implementing it.

What I have at the moment feels a bit...complected. Each player character has a strength stat that, among other things, makes some better at breaking obstacles. They also need items (tools) for breaking them, some of which offer stat bonuses. Each player involved in breaking an obstacle adds or multiplies their stat bonuses, then the group adds their values together and multiplies it by a die roll. If the final tally is greater than the obstacle's value, they "break" in and claim their loot.

Each step has a reason, but altogether it seems a bit much. So, are there any other systems I can use for this? Otherwise, any recommendations for streamlining what I have?
 
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Freelance Police
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Nice. Take a look at the Dungeons and Dragons breaking rules (maybe 4th edition) for some ideas. IIRC, you could just give the door "breakage points" which accumulate as the players damage it. D&D has some sort of "durability" number, which reduces damage. Thus, you can take an axe to a door and eventually break it down, but can't punch one down with your fist (unless you're very strong). Only two players can work together at the same time.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Well, how complicated do you want it to be?


A typical system for using a die roll to overcome an obstacle (literal or otherwise) is die + modifiers vs difficulty. Add your strength and tool value--or maybe just take the better of the two--plus your die result and compare to the obstacle's strength.

Group efforts are often problematic. You could add up the modifiers of everyone in the group, but (depending on the details of the game) that often means that the worst possible result for a group is better than the best possible result for an individual, so either group efforts auto-win or individual efforts auto-lose.

One common solution is to let the group use the modifier of the best single individual, plus a very small bonus based on the number of people. For instance, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd ed. had an ability called "aid another" where you could spend your turn just to make someone else's roll easier, but you would only give them a +2 bonus (on a 20-sided die) no matter how good you were at the thing they were trying.

Another common solution is to disallow combined actions, and just let every person make an individual attempt one at a time if they want to. This still improves your odds, because you have multiple chances, but no single roll is more likely to succeed, so you don't "fall off the random range" into auto-success territory.


Here's a moderately-complicated system I just made up based on the concepts you're trying to represent:

Each obstacle has two stats: hardness and bulk. A thick barricade of plastic deck furniture has low hardness but high bulk. A thin sheet of steel has high hardness but low bulk. A wall of concrete is high in both.

Each tool for clearing obstacles has two stats: power and efficiency.

If the power of your tool is less than the hardness of the obstacle, you can't even try to clear it. You can't use a wooden bat to carve through an iron gate, no matter how strong you are. If you want to cut into the bank vault, you need a cutting torch.

If the power of your tool is greater than or equal to the obstacle's hardness, then you compare die roll + strength + the tool's efficiency against the obstacle's bulk:
- if your result is greater than the bulk, you clear the obstacle
- if your result equals the bulk, you partially cleared the obstacle; reduce its bulk by half
- if your result is less than the bulk, you weakened the obstacle; reduce its bulk by one
- if you rolled the minimum possible die result, then you had no effect (regardless of your modifiers)

If a group of players wants to clear the same obstacle, they take turns making individual attempts, and the earlier players will tend to weaken it for the later players.

If players continue working on the same obstacle turn after turn, they will eventually clear it. (I am assuming they have a limited number of turns before something bad happens and/or a limited number of times they can use that tool before it wears out/runs out of fuel/etc.)

Perhaps some tools should allow you to add your strength and others should not (e.g. it matters how strong you are if you're using an axe; it doesn't matter as much if you're using a chainsaw).
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Graham Muller
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In survival horror resources and time are your biggest constraints.
Could you not have tougher obstacles require more actions (possibly group actions)
This can be assisted with by specific obstacles or character traits
 
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Donald Walsh
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I think Earth Reborn has a similar mechanic.
 
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Jeremy Monts

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On a similar line as Jeremy above, you could also have two styles of item/obstacles.

Style one could use the STR vs DURABILITY, and these would be your "easy" obstacles. So here you can smash down a normal door, or break a window.

Style two could use TYPE vs TYPE. These would be your Cutting Torch VS Safe, or your Bolt Cutters VS Heavy Chain. They're hard to get because it requires a certain item to access.
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Fenmar
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This War of Mine: The Board Game does this very simply by consuming the group's time, and asking them to roll a die. You can try as many times as you want, but that will cost you additional time...
 
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mark w

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Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault has barrels that you can break to find stuff like potions
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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semicharm wrote:
As part my survival horror game, players scavenge for useful items in abandoned buildings. Some items are behind obstacles (locked doors and barricades) that players can break through. Obstacles have a value denoting their strength, making some harder to break through than others. I haven't seen anything quite like this in a board game, so I have no idea what would be the easiest system for implementing it.

What I have at the moment feels a bit...complected. Each player character has a strength stat that, among other things, makes some better at breaking obstacles. They also need items (tools) for breaking them, some of which offer stat bonuses. Each player involved in breaking an obstacle adds or multiplies their stat bonuses, then the group adds their values together and multiplies it by a die roll. If the final tally is greater than the obstacle's value, they "break" in and claim their loot.

Each step has a reason, but altogether it seems a bit much. So, are there any other systems I can use for this? Otherwise, any recommendations for streamlining what I have?


What is the purpose of the breaking? Do you do it often? What is the core of the game? What do you want the players to achieve?

Is it simply a matter of "If you see something you always break it." or do you want it to be a choice of spending time/resources?
 
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Semicharm
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Thanks everyone for your replies. Gives me some things to consider.

I guess there's a few things I didn't explain well. The rules I have requires players to use a tool. The value of basic tools are based on the character's strength. Better tools have bonuses based on their effective power or leverage. With them it's sort of all or nothing, either they break though the obstacle or they don't. The biggest tools also have a "damage" bonus, each round they're used that didn't succeed reduces the obstacle's value. (I need to fix how that's calculated though.) Tougher obstacles have values (hopefully) weighted against the probability of a single player getting an instant win.

Also each try, whether successful or not, requires the players who made the attempt to use a turn. The group only has a limited number of turns to get items before the "opponents" arrive (number and difficulty may differ each time), so time vs gain is definitely a factor. To offset the difficulty of the task, there's also item cards for "keys" and "combination" to instantly open locks, a "thief" character with lock picking skills (locks have separate value as well), and a few other characters have skills for dealing with barricades. Characters are randomly drawn, so you may not get a particular character, but hopefully every group will have someone with a helpful obstacle skill.

As for complexity, a play session spans a single night in the game world, so I'm looking to stay on the lighter end (no stat building and the such). The combat and other systems are getting more complected than I expected, but they'll be interesting. I'm trying to precalculate the various attributes and values as much as possible to make gameplay more frantic. What fun is it if you have to constantly stop and get out a calculator app just to determine if you took off the monster's head...or if it took off yours LOL.
 
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Semicharm
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grimmymail wrote:
semicharm wrote:
As part my survival horror game, players scavenge for useful items in abandoned buildings. Some items are behind obstacles (locked doors and barricades) that players can break through. Obstacles have a value denoting their strength, making some harder to break through than others. I haven't seen anything quite like this in a board game, so I have no idea what would be the easiest system for implementing it.

What I have at the moment feels a bit...complected. Each player character has a strength stat that, among other things, makes some better at breaking obstacles. They also need items (tools) for breaking them, some of which offer stat bonuses. Each player involved in breaking an obstacle adds or multiplies their stat bonuses, then the group adds their values together and multiplies it by a die roll. If the final tally is greater than the obstacle's value, they "break" in and claim their loot.

Each step has a reason, but altogether it seems a bit much. So, are there any other systems I can use for this? Otherwise, any recommendations for streamlining what I have?


What is the purpose of the breaking? Do you do it often? What is the core of the game? What do you want the players to achieve?

Is it simply a matter of "If you see something you always break it." or do you want it to be a choice of spending time/resources?

As stated in the OP, the core of the game is "survival horror". As part of that the players "scavenge for useful items in abandoned buildings." The purpose of breaking is that "some items are behind obstacles (locked doors and barricades) that players can break through."

Time and ammo are in short supply, so it comes down to spending time vs getting ammo or even finding better items.
 
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Semicharm
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BTW, can you guys give a brief explanation or example of how breaking works in "Earth Reborn", "This War of Mine", or "Super Fantasy"? I don't know anyone who has those or have $$$ to get them.
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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semicharm wrote:
As stated in the OP, the core of the game is "survival horror". As part of that the players "scavenge for useful items in abandoned buildings." The purpose of breaking is that "some items are behind obstacles (locked doors and barricades) that players can break through."

Time and ammo are in short supply, so it comes down to spending time vs getting ammo or even finding better items.


My personal feeling is that if there are different types of items to break and they differ in difficulty I would appreciate if the reward some how reflected that as well. So I just don't look in a bucket and find the super mega weapon and later I spend a lot of effort to break into a chest to find nothing. It might not be realistic but from a game perspective it might feel better.
 
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Carel Teijgeler
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semicharm wrote:
BTW, can you guys give a brief explanation or example of how breaking works in "Earth Reborn", "This War of Mine", or "Super Fantasy"? I don't know anyone who has those or have $$$ to get them.

Go to the game pages and look at the File section or the Web Links and see whether you can donwload the rules.
 
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Semicharm
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grimmymail wrote:
My personal feeling is that if there are different types of items to break and they differ in difficulty I would appreciate if the reward some how reflected that as well. So I just don't look in a bucket and find the super mega weapon and later I spend a lot of effort to break into a chest to find nothing. It might not be realistic but from a game perspective it might feel better.

In my game, "Easy" obstacles will usually have random items. Tougher obstacles will have bigger rewards, such as guns and ammo. The toughest will have even more. There are several general categories of items, sorted into separate decks, used to build the stock piles for each area or object. That makes it easy control what types of rewards each of them get. However, the backs of all item cards are the same, so you don't know exactly what you'll draw next--only what types went into making the pile.
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Semicharm
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Thanks everyone for your input. My half-assed attempt at simplifying the rules by reusing one of the stats was creating a mess. I think the simplest option for my game would be to give a separate single digit stat to each character and object bonus, and to have the roll be against the current obstacle value.

That simplifies the math a bit, and it's only needed to determine if a set of characters combined value is equal or greater than the obstacle value. After that, each round breaking the obstacle only requires rolling one set of dice.
 
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Semicharm
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I still have to work out how the how the "damage" system works, but this could simplify that as well.
 
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